Jun 5 2021

budget PUBLIC HEARING FY 2021-2022 Taxes

Budget Advisory committee to meet after the Council first considers the 2021- 22 budget and tax levies.  The Committee was formed following a major failing by the City when allowing the undergrounding project in upper Piedmont to go over budget by $2 million due to incorrect contracts, funding, and oversight.

The City has not been following the charge to the committee.  Charge example: “Provide a financial review of any new program commitments and funding sources in excess of $250,000 in any fiscal year.” 

On the June 7 Council Agenda the Council is asked to approve a $600,000+ contract for management of the Municipal Pool construction, yet there is no review by the BAFPC indicated in the staff report.

See May 2. 2021 article:    Housing Element Consulting Services $691,230

BAFPC charge

Although the City website states minutes are available, none have been publicly disseminated and there is no evidence minutes were approved by the Committee, as the minutes have never been found on any Committee agenda.

The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee is one of the most vulnerable public bodies to a conflict of interest, yet the City Council does not require compliance with disclosure of assets per state conflict of interest laws. This is not to say there have been conflicts of interest, for none have manifested.

 

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May 27 2021

“In the last housing cycle, Piedmont was asked to plan for 60 new homes and the city fell short, issuing permits for just 37 units*. This cycle, the city is expected to plan for nearly 600 new homes.  …

In a staff report on future housing development, the Piedmont Planning Division  highlighted several ideas from residents about how to build more affordable housing, including placing it on land annexed from Oakland and subsidizing development of new units and purchasing apartments for teachers and first responders in the neighboring city.” SF Chronicle May 20, 2021

The May 20, 2021 SF Chronicle article contained several errors.  The 60 new housing units are the planning goal for the current cycle.  Piedmont is on track to exceed its effort to add 60 units by the deadline at the end of 2022.  The proposed 587 new housing units is the planning goal assigned for the cycle beginning in 2023 and ending 2031.

City staff reports “The 2020 annual progress report shows that the City of Piedmont is close to meeting and surpassing the annual rate of construction of new housing units anticipated by the RHNA [Regional Housing Needs Allocation] having issued building permits for the construction of approximately 73 new units out of a state-mandated allocation of 60 new units by the end of 2022.”

As a denser city, Piedmont will be seriously challenged in the future to plan for its uncontested 587 additional housing units RHNA.  The State considers that local governments play a vital role in developing affordable housing. In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of our residents—regardless of income. 

Other cities having greater land availability than Piedmont have contested their allocation for increased housing units.  State laws allow for input on  draft RHNA based on individual cities conditions.

The Piedmont City Council has consistently voiced their desire to meet Piedmont’s draft allocation (587) and add the new housing units within Piedmont. 

The City Council has moved ahead on the 2023 planning process, hiring consultants, asking residents where they want to put 587 new units, and forming committees to pursue and influence Piedmonters in regard to the 587 new units.  Public hearings in Piedmont have yet to be held on the Piedmont opinions of the new housing expansion. 

Why is the Piedmont RHNA for the cycle beginning 2023 approximately 10 times larger than the current RHNA?

One contributing factor is the new “equity adjustment,” a formula was proposed that increases allocations of lower-income units for some jurisdictions identified as having racial and socioeconomic demographics that differ from the regional average. Five jurisdictions that met the formula were excluded.  These jurisdictions were excluded from the equity adjustment to avoid directing additional lower-income RHNA units to jurisdictions with racial demographics that are different than the rest of the region but that already have a high share of lower-income households.  [See tables beginning on page 31 of this report.]

Per the Piedmont City Charter, some of the potential methods of increasing Piedmont housing units will require voter approval to make zoning changes.

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May 27 2021

Piedmont’s Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA)

Jumps from 60 to 587 housing units in the next

Planning Cycle that begins in 2023

An “equity adjustment” formula was proposed that increases the allocations of lower-income units for some jurisdictions identified as having racial and socioeconomic demographics that differ from the regional average. Five jurisdictions that met the formula were excluded.  These jurisdictions were excluded from the equity adjustment to avoid directing additional lower-income RHNA units to jurisdictions with racial demographics that are different than the rest of the region but that already have a high share of lower-income households.

[See the equity adjustment tables which begin on page 31 of this report.}

The equity adjustment identified 49 jurisdictions in the Bay Area that exhibit racial and socioeconomic demographics that differ from the regional average using a composite score developed by several members of the Housing Methodology Committee (HMC). The purpose of the equity adjustment is to ensure that each of these 49 jurisdictions receives an allocation of lower-income units that is at least proportional to its share of the region’s total households in 2020.

For example, if a jurisdiction had two percent of existing households, it would receive at least two percent of the very low- and low-income RHNA units. The composite score is calculated by adding together the jurisdiction’s divergence index score (which measures segregation by looking at how much local racial demographics differ from the region) and the percent of the jurisdiction’s households with household incomes above 120 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Jurisdictions with a composite score greater than the median score for the region are included in the group of “exclusionary” jurisdictions. Accordingly, a jurisdiction does not necessarily need to have an extremely high divergence score or percent of households above 120 percent AMI to be considered “exclusionary,” as a jurisdiction’s composite score only needed to be in the top half for all Bay Area jurisdictions.

The equity adjustment excludes five jurisdictions who have composite scores above the region’s median, but median incomes in the bottom quartile for the region. These jurisdictions were excluded from the equity adjustment to avoid directing additional lower-income RHNA units to jurisdictions with racial demographics that are different than the rest of the region but that already have a high share of lower-income households.

The equity adjustment is the last step in the allocation methodology, and is applied after the methodology’s factors and weights are used to determine a jurisdiction’s allocation by income category. If the allocation of lower-income RHNA units to one of the 49 jurisdictions identified by the equity adjustment’s composite score does not meet the equity adjustments proportionality threshold, then lower-income units are redistributed from the remaining 60 jurisdictions.

Understanding the formula by reading the long tables is challenging.  Piedmont residential locations were rated virtually identical (18, 19) in terms of very low income job proximity via auto (18) and very low income job proximity via public transit (19), and low income job proximity via auto (10) and low income job proximity via public transit (11) despite the fact that most of Piedmont is more than a quarter mile pedestrian path walk from public transit with service for work schedules.

In comparison, Pinole scored 13, 13 low income job proximity via auto, transit. Portola Valley scored 7, 5 very low income job proximity via auto, transit, and 4, 3 low income job proximity via auto, transit.   Ross scored 2, 3 very low income job proximity via auto, transit and 1, 2 low income job proximity via auto, transit.  Tiburon scored 14, 15 very low income job proximity via auto, transit and 8,8 low income job proximity via auto, transit.  After adding other factors, low density Tiburon with a land area of 4.4 square miles for a population nearly as large as Piedmont, was assigned an RHNA of 639, slightly more than Piedmont.

Often lost in the local enthusiasm is the fact that the planning cycle is 2023 through 2031 and the State law explicitly does not require local jurisdictions to produce or pay for the new housing units it is asked to plan for.

May 25 2021

4th OF JULY EVENTS CHANGED FOR 2021

Unfortunately in 2021, the City of Piedmont will not hold the annual 4th of July parade and party in the park due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As disappointing as this is, the City recognizes that the most important thing right now is to keep the community safe and healthy. Because of the nature of the parade and party in the park, the determination has been made that hosting a large group event in Piedmont is still not a good idea, even with the progress we’ve made fighting COVID-19.

Bringing the Parade to the Community

While we can’t gather together on Highland Avenue, there will be a small flotilla of vehicles that brings the parade to you (or nearby)! A small group of vehicles as well as a flatbed truck carrying the venerable Barrelhouse Jazz Band will slowly make its way around town to bring a little bit of parade spirit to the community.

Keep a look out for the caravan driving down your street (or close by) between at 12:00-1:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 4th.

4th of July House and Car Decorating Contest

Decorate your house, yard, or car to show our Independence Day Spirit, with the theme to be announced soon. The following awards will be given:
• The Highland Cup (Best Entry)
• Highland Saucer (Most Patriotic)
• Highland Spoon (Best Team Entry)
• Best Car in Place

• Most Artistic Award
• Best Spirit Award
• Best Theme Award

Judges will visit each entry on Saturday, July 3rd between 5:00–7:00 p.m. and winners will be announced on Sunday, July 4th.

To enter, email Carla Betts (carlabetts@hotmail.com) the following information by Thursday, July 1st at 5:00 p.m.
• Name
• Address
• Cell Phone

• Email
• Yard or car description

4th of July Block Parties Are Back

Coming back this year in 2021, 4th of July block parties will once again be permitted this year.

If you would like to host a 4th of July block party, please fill out the form on the City’s web page at
https://piedmont.ca.gov and submit by Friday, June 25th at 5:00 p.m.

Please make sure to follow current State COVID Safety guidelines. City of Piedmont Public Works staff will deliver barricades by Friday, July 2nd.

If you need more information about 4th of July block parties please call (510) 420-3040.

Press Release > 2021-05-25 2021 4th of July Events Changed

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May 25 2021

The Piedmont Public Safety Committee will hold a Zoom meeting on Thursday, May 27 at 5:30 pm.  Click the Agenda below for participation details and draft minutes of the Committee’s March meeting. 

PSC Agenda 2021-05-27

Public Safety 2021-03-25 DRAFT

May 25 2021

The Piedmont Recreation Department (PRD) is pleased to announce the selection of Eva Phalen as Piedmont’s newest recreation supervisor.

Ms. Phalen was selected through a rigorous interview process from a group of thirty-eight applicants. Ms. Phalen will join the department on June 7th.

Ms. Phalen is currently employed as the Recreation Manager at the City of Albany, an organization at which she has held several other positions, including Recreation Supervisor, since being hired in 2014.

Prior to her work in Albany, she served with the City of Orinda and Sunny Hills Services, now known as Side By Side.

In her position as Recreation Supervisor with PRD, Ms. Phalen will spend the majority of her time managing the City’s general recreation programs, including classes, facilities, special events, adult/senior programs, and inclusive programs. She will also help supervise PRD’s preschool programs.

“I am so thrilled to join the Piedmont Recreation Department team and work directly with the Piedmont community, said Ms. Phalen. “Living just a stone’s throw away in the Oakland Hills, my family and I utilize Piedmont’s gorgeous parks on a weekly basis. My kids have participated in various PRD camps and classes over the years. We’ve participated in the annual Turkey Trot and I actually grew up taking swim lessons in the Piedmont Community Pool. I’m continually impressed by Piedmont’s robust offerings and I am excited to bring my experience, creativity and passion for building community and family-focused programs to the city.”

“I am looking forward to working with Eva and thrilled to have her join the Piedmont Recreation Department,” said Recreation Director Chelle Putzer.” She brings a wealth of recreation experience to our PRD team and will be able to hit the ground running on her first day in Piedmont!”

May 24 2021

Zoom meeting details 2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Agenda

  1. Election of a Chairperson
  2.  Fiscal Year 2020-21 Financial Update
  3.  Review Proposed Fiscal Year 2021-22 Budget and Consideration of FY 2021-2022 Budget Report
  4.  Review Long Range Financial Plan

Distributed presentation >2021-05-25 Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Presentation

 

May 18 2021

UPDATED: Where is Piedmont’s money going?

The Piedmont City Council will consider the proposed annual budget for fiscal year 2021-2022 at three separate meetings -May 22, June 7 and June 21.

This is a special opportunity for the public to view and speak from a distance when the various department heads present their proposed budgets to the Council on Saturday, May 22, starting at 9:30 am.  The budget presentations historically have not been broadcast or recorded for public viewing, but because of COVID-19 procedures anyone can access and view the critically important Council budget work session from their home or computer.

The Saturday work session will be held virtually on May 22, 2021 beginning at 9:30 a.m. Members of the public are invited to participate in this meeting. Virtual meeting details will be included in the agenda for this meeting.  For Agenda and viewing links go to https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/City%20Council%20Agenda%202021-05-22%20(Special).pdf

Public hearings regarding the proposed budget and the levy of the Municipal Services Tax and the Sewer Tax will be held during regularly scheduled City Council meetings on June 7 and June 21, 2021.

The public is invited to attend all of these meetings and speak to the City Council about spending priorities for the city in the coming year. Click the link to visit the Annual Budgets page > (https://piedmont.ca.gov/services___departments/finance/annual_budgets), where all sections of the proposed budget, as well as approved budgets from previous years, are available for download.

Residents with questions about the contents of the proposed budget can contact Finance Director Michael Szczech via email at mszczech@piedmont.ca.gov or by phone at (510) 420-3045.

Residents wishing to comment on the proposed budget can send an e-mail to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov, send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611, or speak at appropriate times during the meetings to address budget issues.

May 17 2021

The Piedmont Energy Codes “reach” above and beyond the minimum requirements in the State Energy Code.  Comment period for State Code is open. 

On February 1, 2021, Piedmont City Council adopted two amendments to the Building Energy Code that affect both sales and transfers of real estate and the construction of new and existing residential buildings.

To read Ordinance 750 N.S., please click here.
To read Ordinance 751 N.S., please click here.

For renovation projects that cost more than $25,000, at least one from a series of energy efficiency measures must be included in the project.

For renovations costing more than $100,000, two energy efficient measures must be included. It is up to the homeowner which option(s) to choose.

Options range from less expensive options, such as switching out light bulbs, to more expensive ones, like replacing water heaters.

This is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions stemming from natural gas appliances.

Ordinance 750 N.S. was approved by the California Energy Commission on May 12. This ordinance will go into effect for Piedmont projects on June 1. Ordinance 751 N.S. (home energy assessment policy) went into effect on March 3, 2021 and affects homeowners and real estate agents.

When selling a property or transferring the title, the seller must provide potential buyers with a Home Energy Score or Home Energy Audit prepared in the past five years, in addition to the normal disclosure information.

For any questions about these ordinances, please visit the website linked above, or email adykman@piedmont.ca.gov or nredinbo@piedmont.ca.gov.

CEC’s new California Energy Code Draft open for public comment period.

Every three years, the California Energy Commission (CEC) approves a new Energy Code, which impacts how structures are built and renovated during that code cycle. Two weeks ago, the CEC released their proposed changes to the 2022 Energy Code, to take effect January 1, 2023. This is what’s called the “45-day language” meaning that everyone has 45 days to review and provide comments, which are due June 21, 2021.

If members of Piedmont want to comment on the proposed Energy Code, you can make comments on their website (https://efiling.energy.ca.gov/EComment/EComment.aspx?docketnumber=21-BSTD-01).

There are also three days of Zoom hearings on May 24, 27, and 28. The Energy Code helps dictate the work that the Planning and Building Department completes in Piedmont. For instance, the Piedmont reach codes came to pass because they “reach” above and beyond the minimum requirements in the State Energy Code. The new California Energy Code will go into effect in 2023.

 

May 16 2021
The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.
Y = mX + b.  That’s not a typo but an equation, instantly recognizable to mathematicians as the equation for linear regression.  Put technically, the known value (X) times the slope (m) plus a fudge factor (b) estimates the unknown value (Y).   Put simply, estimate the unknown future value from the known past values.
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In the figure below, X, the horizontal axis, is years (2000-2030) and Y, the vertical axis, is the annual Real Property Transfer tax revenue in dollars (millions), collected on Piedmont home sales from 2000 to 2021.  The circles show the annual tax revenue and the blue line is the linear regression of that data out to the year 2030.
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Because linear regression is not perfect, to be safe, practitioners will take out the high and low values (outliers) and re-run the regression. The red line shows the estimated tax revenue with the two red circles removed from the regression.
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The 2009 data is the Great Recession when the tax revenue was $1.7M and the 2021 data is this year’s tax revenue (The COVID bubble?), likely to be $5M.  The lines pretty much overlay each other and show a very consistent increase in tax revenue over 20 years, with or without the outliers.

Every year, rather than rely on linear regression to estimate end of the year tax revenue, the City simply assumes revenue will be $2.8M.  And every year, the city winds up with $500,000 or more to put away into reserve funds like Facility Maintenance, Equipment Replacement or Pension Stabilization.

This year is an exception– almost a $2M surplus will be collected.  On a year-to-year basis, that may be ok – by staying on budget the city ends the year with a surplus that can be banked for long term needs.

But last year the City decided to project this $2.8 forward for 10 years – that’s the flat line in the figure – and claimed the city was facing a “deficit”.  This reasoning was offered as justification for putting Measure TT, the proposed increase in the transfer tax, on the 2020 ballot.  Measure TT failed, just in time for record transfer tax revenues.

Why this all matters is because the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) will soon convene and possibly consider what to do about the failure of TT.

The BAFPC reviews the revenue projections by staff and there’s chatter of a “Plan B” to raise more revenue.  Perhaps with a new Mayor and chairperson there will be new thinking by the BAFPC and the committee will advise staff to adopt a more accurate forecasting approach.

For example, transfer tax receipts over the past 10 years now average $3.4M annually (not including 2021) – use that value for the flat-line projection.  Better yet, perform this simple linear regression to project next year’s revenue and apportion that estimate to the three funds as needed.  The BAFPC needs to get the revenue projections right before it starts considering new taxes.

Click graph below to  enlarge.

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

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